When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Space for all as new buses are launched
DISABLED bus users and parents are celebrating because commutes on Oxford’s public transport have been made easier.
For the first time, separate spaces for both buggies and wheelchairs have been created on Oxford Bus Company vehicles, at a cost of £50,000.
The new look buses were launched by Oxford West and Abingdon MP, Nicola Blackwood, yesterday.
Oxford Bus Company operations director Phil Southall said: “In the past there has been conflict between different users with passengers unwilling to move or collapse their buggies to make way for another passenger in a wheelchair.
“Now the buses in our fleet have been modified with a designated area for buggies and a separate one for wheelchair users.”
He added: “It is very important to us that everyone is able to use our buses.”
Most of the buses on the fleet have now been replaced with the new layout, with just 10 remaining and due to be replaced early next year.
Regular sessions will be held at the company’s headquarters at Cowley House so anyone with mobility problems can familiarise themselves with the new layout.
Mr Southall added: “Those who have already taken part say it’s been a great help and boosted their confidence before they boarded one of our buses in their wheelchair for the first time.”
All buses now have low floor entrances without steps, that can lower to curb level, high visibility handrails and wider spaces between the front rows.
The space for wheelchairs has a padded bulwark to rest against and there is now a separate area for guide dogs and buggies.
Disabilities campaigner Gwynneth Pedler hailed the new buses as a step in the right direction.
The deputy chairman of the Oxfordshire Unlimited disabled campaign group said: “These are absolutely wonderful, they are long awaited.
“These have been starting to come in over the past few weeks and it’s been bliss.
“The original spaces came in after the disability discrimination act.
“But before disabled people realised how good this was and used them, the public claimed them as luggage space.”
She added: “Now there are clear markings on the floor, which say ‘wheelchairs’ and ‘buggies’, and it’s going to make such a big difference.”